Layer 2 vs Layer 3 VPN – Know the Difference


Introduction to VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and allows end hosts to perform data communication across shared or public networks.

In early years, Layer 2 VPNs were pretty popular and later on came Layer 3 VPNs which started picking up pace. Both the VPN types have their own pros and cons.

The technological advancement in the VPN domain and need for enhanced security, new and improved double VPN solutions have caught the market’s eye and are fast gaining popularity. One such eminent double VPN solution by Sufrshark provides that extra layer of security.

In this blog, we will explore the differences between the two VPN types i.e. Layer 2 vs Layer 3 VPN

Difference Table: Layer 2 vs Layer 3 VPN

Below table summarizes the differences between the two:

PHILOSOPHYLayer 2 VPNs virtualize the datalink layer (Layer 2) so as to make geographically remote sites look as if they were operating in the same LAN network.Layer 3 VPNs virtualize the network layer (Layer 3) so as to route your customer networks over a public infrastructure like Internet or Service provider backbone.
TRAFFIC FORWARDINGProvider devices forward customer traffic based on Layer 2 information.Provider devices forward customer traffic based on Layer 3 information.
SCALABILITYGenerally, Layer 2 VPNs are less scalable than Layer 3 VPNs.Generally, Layer 3 VPNs are more scalable than Layer 2 VPNs.
LAYER 3 CONNECTIVITYCustomer make Layer 3 (IP) connectivity with remote customer sites and not with Service provider.Customer make Layer 3 connectivity (IP) with provider sites' edge devices.
SERVICE PROVIDER INVOLVEMENTService provider is not involved in Customer Subnets IP Routing.Service provider is involved in Customer Subnets IP Routing.
ROUTING CONTROLPreferred approach when customer wants all the routing and policy governance under its management control.Preferred approach when customer is fine with sharing its routing information with service provider and the policy control is not so stringent.

Download the difference table here.

Layer 2 VPN vs Layer 3 VPN


Hope you would have understood the comparison of layer 2 vs layer 3 VPN through detailed table mentioned above. Also, read our other extensive guides & Interview Questions-

Policy-based VPN vs Route-based VPN

VPN Top 100 Interview Questions

Site to Site VPN vs Remote Access VPN


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